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The Conduct of Ministry

THEREFORE SINCE WE HAVE THIS MINISTRY, AS WE HAVE RECEIVED MERCY, WE DO NOT LOSE HEART. BUT WE HAVE RENOUNCED THE HIDDEN THINGS OF DISHONESTY, NOT WALKING IN CRAFTINESS, NOR HANDLING THE WORD OF GOD DECEITFULLY, BUT BY MANIFESTATION OF THE TRUTH COMMENDING OURSELVES TO EVERY MAN’S CONSCIENCE IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. AND IF OUR GOSPEL BE HIDDEN IT IS HIDDEN TO THOSE WHO ARE PERISHING, WHOSE MINDS THE GOD OF THIS WORLD HAS BLINDED,WHO DO NOT BELIEVE, LEST THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL OF THE GLORY OF CHRIST, WHO IS THE IMAGE OF GOD SHOULD SHINE ON THEM. FOR WE DO NOT PREACH OURSELVES, BUT CHRIST JESUS THE LORD AND OURSELVES YOUR BOND SERVANT FOR JESUS’ SAKE. FOR IT IS GOD WHO COMMANDED THE LIGHT TO SHINE OUT OF DARKNESS, WHO HAS SHOWN IN OUR HEARTS TO GIVE THE LIGHT OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE GLORY OF GOD IN THE FACE OF JESUS CHRIST. BUT WE HAVE THIS TREASURE IN EARTHEN VESSELS, THAT THE EXCELLENCY OF THE POWER MAY BE OF GOD AND NOT OF US. (2 Corinthians 4:1-7 NKJV)

 

INTRODUCTION

The greatest expository preacher of the 20th century, Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd- Jones, would frequently ask in his sermons a question such as: “Why is the world to way it is today?" Dr. Martyn Lloyd -Jones’ answer was almost always that the Christian Church is failing to do its job. Dr. Martyn Lloyd- Jones, in his work on the Sermon on the Mount, stated, “I do not think it is a harsh judgment to say that the most obvious feature of the life of the Christian Church today is alas, its superficiality." (General introduction to the Sermon on the Mount Volume 1 page 9)

Today we hear and are informed of professing Christians trying to find “common ground” with Muslims. It is reported that there are some Christians who are trying to bring about what some have labeled "chrislam". We are also informed of professing Evangelical Christians who are trying to “return" to and merge with the Roman Catholic Church. The current Pope in the Roman Catholic Church says without equivocation that Mary is a co-redemptrix with the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am the way the truth and the life and no man comes under the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

We also read in the Holy Scriptures that there is  “one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus”. The Roman Catholic pope says that “good Muslims” go to heaven, as well as “good Hindus" , “good Buddhists" and  “good atheists, etc". These things cannot all be true. From Genesis chapter 3, when the Lord God appears to Adam and Eve, after the fall he says the following: “and the Lord God said to the woman, ‘what is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘the serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ So the Lord God said to the serpent: ‘because you have done this you are cursed more than all cattle and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed and he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." (Genesis 3:13 – 15 NKJV)

Thus, we see God's plan revealed to the serpent and to Adam and Eve immediately after the fall. Jesus Christ is the Only Way! There is no co-redemptrix! Those who have not received The Lord Jesus Christ have the wrath of God abiding on them.From the gospel of John we see the scriptural proof of this dreadful statement. In the 3rd chapter and verse 36 we see clearly revealed that “he who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." The Lord Jesus Christ is our only Redeemer. Our only Savior. There is none other!

It is the failure of the Christian Church to earnestly contend for the faith delivered once to the Saints of which Dr. Martyn Lloyd -Jones was speaking circa 1959. From the scripture set out above, we can discern several things. First, we see clearly that we all do have a ministry. Second, we see the manner of which we are to do the ministry. Third, we see the content of the ministry. It is my hope and earnest expectation that a brief examination of this section of scripture will help all of us to do the work of an evangelist and to do the ministry to the glory of God.

I.    WE HAVE A MINISTRY

Paul had a ministry. He states that fact expressly in this portion of scripture. We all have the same ministry. We are called to go into all the world and preach God's Holy Truth and the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and “to make disciples of all nations teaching them to observe all things whatsoever that Christ has commanded us”.(Matthew 28:18 – 20 NKJV)

One may ask, what is the ministry? The great apostle Paul sets out this ministry in verses 2, 3 and 5 of the 4th chapter of his 2nd letter to the church at Corinth. When Paul had written in the first chapter of his epistle to the Church at Rome, he stated in the 16th verse, “for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." In verse 5 of this 4th chapter of his 2nd epistle to the church at Corinth, God's Word says, “for we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord and ourselves your bond servants for Jesus sake." Therefore, our same ministry is to not preach ourselves, but preach Christ Jesus the Lord. The word Lord comes from the word Adonai and means master, ruler, owner, self existing one. Jesus is our creator, our maker, our king, our master, our redeemer, our Savior. He is the Lord our righteousness, in the Old Testament Jehovah Tsidkenu , meaning he is the Lord our righteousness. Jesus  “became sin for us, though he knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” Again, we see that Jesus is our only savior, our only redeemer. Christ is our life. “For us to live is Christ and to die is gain”, we see in Philippians 1:21.

In Paul's first epistle to the church at Corinth in the very first chapter of the 23rd verse, we see Paul’s message and ours: he says, “we preach Christ crucified". Paul says in that first chapter of his first letter to Corinth that God did not send him to baptize but “… to preach the gospel of Christ, not with wisdom of words lest the Cross of Christ… be made of none effect". When one preaches himself, or with “wisdom of words”, he renders the Cross of Christ of none effect!

Paul was aware that there were people then, as there are now, who would not agree with the message of the Christian gospel. More importantly, God, who knows everyone's heart, knows that there are people who will not hear or receive the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, none would receive this glorious good news except for the fact that God Himself brings about the changed heart and turns men and women's hearts to Him through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Notwithstanding the fact that there were those who would not hear the message, and even if they heard it would not believe it or receive it, we hear Paul saying in first Corinthians 1:23, “we preach Christ crucified!” He reveals in that first chapter of first Corinthians that Christ crucified is “the power of God and the wisdom of God to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks”. (1 Corinthians 1:24)

Therefore, the ministry that we all have is to preach the one true gospel – Christ Jesus crucified. The gospel of Jesus Christ is set forth succinctly in the 15th chapter of first Corinthians and we see from the Jude 3 that we are “to earnestly contend for the faith delivered once unto the Saints". This is important. Don't faint! Don't compromise! Don't look for common ground between Muslims and Christians! Don't surrender! Preach the Lord Jesus Christ crucified who “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the Cross that we being dead unto sins should live unto righteousness, by whose stripes ye are healed.”(1 Peter 2:24)

II.    THE MANNER OF THE MINISTRY

What is the manner in which we are to do this Ministry? We all have this ministry. Everyone does not have the same size ministry, but everyone does have the same calling and the same message. It is to preach Christ crucified. What is the manner in which we are to do it? Paul set that out in these few verses set forth herein above:

a) Nothing dishonest. We are not doing dishonest things; the Lord Jesus Christ is truth itself. We cannot do dishonest things to promote the truth. Nothing dishonest. Everything should be open as we seek to manifest the Lord Jesus Christ to whom he would send us.

b) Nothing is to be done in craftiness. Craftiness really means a form of shrewdness as demonstrated by being skilled in deception, cunning, foxiness, guile, slyness, wilyness. Indeed, we are not even to use “wisdom of words". We do not preach ourselves! We preach Christ crucified – without deception, guile or cunning, but straightforward and honestly. It is God who saves one!

c) Nothing done deceitfully. Deceit always looks like the truth, which is why it is so dangerous, but it is not the truth; it misleads others into thinking such things as you don't have to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to go to heaven or you don't have to be a Christian, you can be a “good Muslim"; you can be a “good atheist". These things are deceitful, dishonest, untruthful, insincere, and untrustworthy. Moreover, they are designed to sound reasonable! Deceitfulness fools people. No deceit!

d) We are to have the manifestation of the truth! Paul says, “he commends himself to every man's conscience in the sight of God”. He was a man who had been persecuting the Lord Jesus Christ and the Christian Church! Now, he is seeking to be sincere. The reason given by the Apostle Paul is, “if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden to them that are lost [because] the minds of those who are lost, are blinded by the god of this world”. However, when we do the ministry according to our calling, Christ breaks down the blindness and the middle wall of partition and calls both those Jews and Greeks to Himself whom the Father has given to the Son.

III.    THE CONTENT OF THE MINISTRY

Here we see in these few verses that the ministry to be preached is “Christ crucified”. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek”. In Hebrews chapter one, the writer says the following:

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of this power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High.” (Hebrews 1:1 – 3 KJV)

The Lord Jesus Christ is God the eternal Son. He is the express image of the eternal God. He is the Word of God for this, and for all time! He has purged our sins and all sins of all who receive Him by the gift of repentance toward God and saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

When Christ crucified is preached, that is the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, the Lord God sends it to whom He will and it is God's power and wisdom to raise the spiritually dead, breakdown blindness, to open hearts, and to bring the hearer to the new birth in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to adopt him into God's family as an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ. In verse 6, set out above, we see, “for God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”. Thus, from Romans chapter 5 verse one and two, we see that “being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ by whom also we have access into this grace wherein we stand in the hope of the glory of God. There is no condemnation now to those who are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.”(Romans 8:1) God has set forth the Lord Jesus Christ to be the propitiation of our sin. The Lord Jesus Christ is the all sufficient One. He goes to the one to whom the Father sends him and gives salvation to whom He will. Salvation is all of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, do not be deceived, there is only one true faith. Our ministry is to earnestly contend for that one true faith. It's not some syncretism, or blend, or mixture, with other “religious doctrines”. There is no deceit and no craftiness.  We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. It is God's desire and our ministry to pray to that end and to ask the Lord God to manifest Himself to those to whom He will, that they might know Him, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. (John 17:3)

CONCLUSION

Now unto him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty and dominion and power both now and forever more. Amen

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